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Practice boundary pilots get underway

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Pilots to abolish general practice boundaries in three parts of England begin at the end of April.

Patients who live outside the boundary area of practices in areas of London, Manchester and Salford, and Nottingham will be able to register with a GP practice of their choice under plans agreed as part of the 2012/13 GMS contract.

The pilots will run for one year, and also aim to benefit people who are moving home and wish to remain with their preferred practice.

Participating surgeries will receive the same global sum funding, QOF, DES and local enhanced service payments as they would for any other patient. Patients who do not wish to register can be seen five times a year, for which the practice will receive £12.93 each time.

Critics have warned the £12.93 payment is inadequate. Manchester LMC chairman Dr John Hughes told GP newspaper: 'The funding is rather pathetic as walk-in centres get about £25 per consultation. They are trying to get a cheap deal.'

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'I know from speaking to patients that they are frustrated that they are only allowed to go to the GP nearest their home rather than the one that best suits their needs.'

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